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Jade Empire

Developer: Bioware | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action/RPG

Release Date: 04/12/05

jadepc3.jpgBioware is no stranger to success and they came out swinging at this year’s E3 show with their Xbox 360 game Mass Effect. While Mass Effect may be destined for great things, it wasn’t the only game the company had on display at their booth in the back of the West Hall. If the name Jade Empire rings a bell, it should; it was one of the best games to come out on the Xbox. Now Bioware is in the process of bringing the title to PC gamers and there’s good reason to be excited.

If you’re not familiar with the title, it can probably best be described as a cross between a 3D fighter and an action RPG. You can use various styles of fighting inspired by real martial arts. Whether you’re unarmed or not, you can pull off brutal combos to decimate foes with ruthless efficiency and some of the moves will give you a good chuckle as you completely obliterate an enemy’s head. The game features five main styles of combat: normal hand-to-hand fighting, magic-inspired techniques, support, transformation and weapons combat. Within each kind of combat, there are several martial arts styles available giving you a lot of options in deciding how you wish to fight.

jadepc2.jpgJade Empire on the PC will be more than a simple port; the developers are giving this game the royal treatment. They’ve greatly improved the enemy AI and have added new items, enemies, fighting styles, weapons and even some new characters which were not in the original game. They’re even getting some celebrity voice actors from the casts of Serenity and Firefly to do the acting for the characters in game. When asked about a release date, the developers said they were planning on shipping it this holiday season, but if they feel the game isn’t going to be ready in time, they will push that date back in order to make this release as good as it can possibly be.

When the game begins, players will have the opportunity to create their own hero, or choose from one of seven pre-made characters. The pre-made characters cover the gamut of abilities from the strong, hulking type character to the smaller, more agile type. No matter which character you choose, or create, you’ll have to make decisions as the story progresses and your choices will have an affect on what happens in the end. The game has three different endings and multiple, branching story paths to bring you to those endings.

On the technical side of things, Jade Empire is really shaping up nicely. The graphics are fantastic. The environments are incredibly detailed and look amazing. Also, the character models are solid and have some truly beautiful animations that really put the “arts” into martial arts. As stated, the team at Bioware is shooting for a release this holiday season, so if you missed out on the Xbox version or simply wish to revisit the title make sure you keep an eye out for any updates regarding the release date right here at CVG.

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By Ryan Schaefer - 05/14/06
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence
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Screenshots for Jade Empire

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